Coaches often preach of the importance of the first five minutes of a game or half. They also talk about the last five minutes of each. It was those final five minutes that proved the difference for the Barton men’s basketball team Wednesday night.
The Cougars opened Jayhawk Conference play at the Lesh Sports Arena in Pratt with a 68-52 win over the Beavers.
The contest was close most of the way but the Cougars closed out on a 15-0 run to open things up in the final five minutes.
Barton improves to 9-3 on the season and an all-important 1-0 in the conference while Pratt is now 0-1 and 7-4.
“I felt all night we had a lot of energy out there,” Coach Fletchall said. “We just stayed with that and eventually it paid off for us. We were strong at the end of the game. We played with energy for 40 minutes.
“This gym hasn’t been the kindest to me over the years so this was great for us.”
The game got off to a slow scoring start with each team going more than three minutes without a basket. At the midway point of the opening half it was 12-10 in favor of the Cougars.
The scoring picked up a little in the final nine minutes but a low scoring first half saw Barton and Pratt tied at 28-all.
The second half went at a much quicker pace. The game remained close with Barton holding a 53-52 lead with just less than six minutes to play.
Derek Dorn made it 56-52 with 5:45 to play on a baseline 3-pointer in front of the Barton bench. That would be the beginning of the 15-0 run to end the game for the Cougars.
The Barton lead crossed into double figures with 2:50 to play when Dequandre Dentmond scored on the block and converted the ensuing free throw for a 63-52 lead.
Barton continued to pull away as Pratt couldn’t buy a bucket in the final minutes. The 52 points was the lowest output of the season for the Beavers.
Dorn paced the Cougars with 19 points on the night. Dorn scored 17 in the second half.
“He is getting better every game out,” Coach Fletchall said of Dorn. “He is the heart and soul of our team. He wants to get better and he works at it.”
Dentmond, fresh off being named the KJCCC Player of the Week, continued his strong play with 15 points to go with a team-high three assists. Anthony Smith led Barton with five rebounds.
Pratt was led in scoring by Anthony Maimie with 12. Byron Smith finished with 11 points and 11 rebounds for the Beavers.
The Cougars will now head to Butler for another Jayhawk Conference tilt Saturday at 4 p.m. from the Power Plant in El Dorado.